Affordable Housing

Affordable Housing Overview

The federal government defines affordable housing as, “Housing in which the occupant(s) is/are paying no more than 30% of their income for gross housing costs, including utilities.” Affordable housing means a place is affordable so that when the rent or mortgage is paid, one can still afford other basic necessities such as food, healthcare, and transportation.

Housing subsidies help to provide decent and safe housing for low-income families. Subsidies come in many forms, but the main goal is to supplement or offset monthly housing costs for individuals or families to obtain and remain in housing. Subsidies can include public housing, direct housing subsidies, and rent supplements such as deposit and downpayment assistance.

The City of Tucson and Pima County administer several programs to assist both homeowners and renters in need of affordable housing. The maps on this page show the quantity and general location, of the following types of publicly supported affordable housing units in the region:

  • Public Housing
  • Tenant-based vouchers
  • Affordable Housing with below-market rents

It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive summary of affordable housing units as the maps focus on housing that is owned and/or supported by the City of Tucson and Pima County or have received Low Income Housing Tax Credits administered by the State of Arizona.

Public Housing Around the Tucson MSA

Public Housing includes properties that are owned and operated by the City of Tucson, serving low-income families, the elderly, and persons with disabilities. To qualify for Tucson’s public housing units the family income can be no higher than 50% of the Area Median Income at entrance into the program. The AMI for the Tucson MSA defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for a four-person household is $68,400. Therefore, the 50% income limit for a family of four is $34,200. There is currently a closed waitlist for Tucson’s public housing units.

Public Housing Unit Summary  
Multifamily units for Seniors or Persons with Disabilities 550
Multifamily units for Families 452
Single Family Properties 503
Total Public Housing Units 1,505

Map of Public Housing Units by Ward

The map below shows the number of public housing units by ward. Ward 3 has the most public housing units (658) including the largest public housing site, the Tucson House, the 17-story high rise apartment building on Oracle Rd that has 407 total units or 27% of Tucson’s entire public housing stock. Ward 2 has the smallest number of public housing units at 38.


Tenant Based Assistance (Section 8/Voucher Assistance)

Otherwise known as "Section 8", housing choice voucher program administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development helps very low-income families, the elderly, and the disabled afford housing on the private market. Any landlord whose property meets the requirements may participate in the program, while voucher holders are free to choose any property that is eligible. Voucher holders pay between 30-40% of their income towards rent while the balance is paid by the City of Tucson Housing Authority (using HUD funding). In Tucson, Section 8 rental units are more common in Wards 3, 5, and 6, with fewer units under contract in Wards 1, 2, and 4.

Tucson Voucher Programs Summary

Data Source: City of Tucson Housing and Community Development Department, July 2020

Affordable/Below-Market Rent Housing Around the Tucson MSA

Outside of the public housing and Section 8 programs, there are additional affordable housing units through the City of Tucson and/or through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) [see map below].


Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHTC) encourages private development of rental housing by providing a credit to offset an investor’s federal income tax liability. In a LIHTC project at least 20% of the units must be both rent restricted and occupied by households with income 50% or less of the area median gross income, or at least 40% of the units must be both rent restricted and occupied by households with income 60% or less of the AMGI.

As of Spring 2019, there were 73 LIHTC projects in Pima County containing 5,008 rental units affordable to very-low and low-income renters. Forty-seven (47) of the projects are family projects, 16 are elderly projects, and 10 are projects for special populations, including people experiencing homelessness.

City of Tucson Affordable Housing Units (outside of Public Housing)

The City of Tucson Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) owns multi-family and single-family properties that provide affordable housing to City residents. Families are charged an affordable rent which is set below market rents by HCD. Through these complexes the city operates over 400 affordable housing units.

Affordable Housing Summary

The table below summarizes the number of affordable housing units across the region. In total there are over 12,000 units available to low-income households. The demand for affordable units is far greater than the supply and more information on the affordable housing needs will be available in Phase 3 of the Housing Market Study: the Gap Analysis.